Top Chef Masters - Ketchup! Volume 1

It's been a very busy last two weeks at the HQ. I'm only just now finishing "It's My Party," the Mekhi Phifer soul food episode of Top Chef Masters. Perhaps we'll move on to "Pub Food" tomorrow night, what with no LOST and all (grumble grumble).

So, in the interest of attempting to merge at close to highway speed, I'll be posting an abbreviated "Best Of" recap of TCM of weeks past.

Marcus Samuelsson, Aquavit, New York. Charity: UNICEF Tap
David Burke, David Burke Townhouse, New York. Charity: Table to Table
Monica Pope, Tafia, Houston. Charity: Recipe for Success
Carmen Gonzalez, (unaffiliated), New York. Charity: ASPCA
Thierry Rautureau, Rover's, Seattle. Charity: Food Lifeline

Quickfire Challenge: Grilled cheese.

Best grilled cheese (and winner of the QF): The Moroccan-inspired sandwich of Monica Pope.
Best fingertip wound care: Carmen Gonzalez.
Best use of interior ingredients on the outside of a sandwich: KFC's Double Down. Second best: Thierry Rautureau and his taleggio.

Elimination: Make a soul food dish for Mekhi Phifer's birthday party, catered.

Best reach at a network tie-in: Bravo, grasping at the hoary ghost of ER at every chance.
Best absurd inclusion of a speech impediment: Bravo, giving the hotelier exactly two sentences of meaningless lisping.
Best impersonation of Marcel's fish: Carmen's hotel pan of stew, sitting on the shelf in the Top Chef Kitchen until two hours before serving.
Best cold realism: David Burke, "I got a charity I want to make money for, and the charity's not named Carmen," who then decides to help her anyway.
Best attempt at running the wrong way up an escalator: Thierry, but only because he was the only doofus to try it.

Best confessional feud: Marcus Samuelsson and Monica, who have very different views on the value of lending a helping hand.
Best justification for overcomplication: Marcus, who defended his kicked-up-a-bunch-of-notches collard greens by saying that if you do it classically, you're going up against Grandma.
Best reason to make your own sausage if you're on any version of Top Chef: The judges always ding you on buying store-made sausage.
Best lack of shock: Jay Rayner, totally unsurprised at James Oseland's revelation that he liked Brussels sprouts as a child.

Best underdog win: Carmen, whose missing yucca bacon mash didn't keep the judges and diners from awarding her the highest star total out of an admittedly low-performing lineup.
Biggest dick move, if true: Marcus, the other victorious chef, telling Monica mid-hug "You know what the lesson is?" and then reminding her that she should have looked out for her own interests instead of helping Carmen.

See ya in a couple days for more Top Chef Masters!